Summit Day

Nearing the summit

Time to go,
The summit calls.

It’s way before sunrise,
No time have I slept.
It’s early, I’m tired,
That fact I accept.

I turn on my Headlamp,
To light up the tent.
Then fire up the stove,
To melt snow’s the intent.

I boil the water,
Must eat and hydrate.
And fill water bottles,
The coffee can wait.

Eat some oatmeal,
Oats and honey,
Find my sunglasses
It’s gonna be sunny.

I put on my bibs,
Inside sleeping bag.
Then finally crawl out,
But don’t lollygag.

I lace up my boots,
My fingers are numb,
I wonder if,
I have a right thumb.

Then out of the tent,
And into the morning.
Wind slaps my bare cheeks,
I think it a warning.

I look to the sky,
The stars overwhelm,
I’m taken aback,
I see a new realm.

So much to do,
And I’m feeling small.
Cold breeze makes me shiver,
I’m hitting a wall.

I fumble with gear,
Crampons, and rope,
My stomach is churning,
I think I’m a dope.

Then just at that moment,
Off to the east,
A full moon rises.
And backlights the peak.

The sight of the mountain
Is of no surprise.
It reminds me
Just why I am there, I surmise.

A warm energy of sorts,
Flows into my veins,
And melts away,
My various pains.

Enthralled and excited,
I rise to the task,
Put on my crampons,
And pull down my mask.

I tie into the rope,
Then take a first step.
No longer feeling
Cold or inept.

Darkness eventually succumbs to the sun.
The mountains awaken,
Each second to none.

Ridges and couloirs,
Faces and shoulders.
Headwalls and passes,
Crevasses and boulders.

A world full of stories,
That change with the time.
This morning I fretted,
But now I just climb.

Audio Version: 

Summit Day

The Night Hike

Sunset

Into the night,
Intently gaze,
And while you do,
A mystery plays.

There were 9 teenagers in Will’s group. He was sure of it. He knew each of them by both their name and quantity of snacks they possessed. They’d been backpacking in the boonies for 10 days and he’d headcounted them a bunch of times. Making sure everyone was accounted for, was one of his prime responsibilities as the group leader. The nine kids and two leaders made for a total group size of 11, a fact engrained in his mind.

Continue reading “The Night Hike”

Nighttime Revisited

on the Glacier

The night was long and restless. He was cold inside his sleeping bag even though the three of them had worked so hard to make things cozy. And then, there was the wind. It blasted the tent relentlessly, and he was worried about getting blown off the ridge. “What would that be like,” he tried to imagine? There was no actual sleep for him. But there was a sort of vigilant grogginess. While his body was mostly still, his mind actively raced in a frenzy of hyperactive speculation. He was uncomfortable, and the situation was damn near depressing. But thankfully, he wasn’t outside climbing toward the summit- yet. That would happen soon enough.

Continue reading “Nighttime Revisited”

Borders

 

Alpine Peak Ascent

No boundaries here,
Just rocks and snow,
And brutal gales,
That often blow.

There’s cold and rivers
That give you shivers.
And desert heat,
That can’t be beat.

You’ll sink in mud,
Wade many creeks,
Cross deep canyons,
And struggle up peaks.

The drizzle and rain
Will drive you insane.
Cold and numbness
Will mess with your brain.

Mountains will block you,
Jungles will hide you,
Crevasses confound you,
And dryness astound you.

Without a doubt,
There will be dirt,
Thirst, and hunger-
And sometimes hurt.

But,

After the summit,
It’s all downhill.
You’ll snooze and cruise
And know the thrill.

Of facing hardships
That come your way,
And dealing with them,
Come what may.

If you persevere and reach
Whatever goal it is you seek,
You’ll soon forget the pain and strife,
That took you up that mighty peak.

So,

Take on each challenge,
And don’t give-in,
Move always forward,
Become the wind.

Audio Version: 

 

Hike-a-Bike

Trail Supper

Copper Canyon Trail Supper

Out on the trail,
Leaning against a rock,
Cooking supper, and
Watching the water boil.

I’m hungry,
But have to wait.
And so,
I feast on tales.

We begin with a story
About noodling for Catfish.
Which seamlessly leads to
A discussion of Black Holes.
And then, there’s a description
Of how to set a cedar fence post
In rocky ground.

The lasagna will take 20 more minutes,
But no worries…….
Because there’s plenty more food for thought,
Waiting to be had.

Further proof
that dessert,
Is often
Best eaten first.

Audio Version:

The Top

The Top of Huayna Potosi; Cordillera Real, Bolivia

Take the broad shoulder
Above the Upper Lake
To the North Ridge.
Then, follow it up to an obvious headwall.
Bypass that to the east
And gain the summit pyramid.

Thirty degrees,
Mixed terrain.
One step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Dirt, rock, then snow.
Be careful
With your feet.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Crampons,
Balling up.
Tap with
Your ice axe.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Look to the west,
And see the mountains
Create the horizon.

Step.
Rest,
And breathe.

The rope,
Keep it
On the downside.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Chunks of snow,
Sliding
Down the slope.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

The tie-in,
Check
The knot.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Ice axe,
In the
Uphill hand.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Don’t fall,
But be ready
To self-arrest.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Blue sky overhead,
Cloud build-up
In the west.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Hot and thirsty,
Snow and ice
Everywhere.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Wind,
Slapping
The face.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Keep following
The trail
In the snow.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

The top,
Over there and
Not so far.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Steeper,
But only
For a short distance.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Water,
Got to stop
To take a drink.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

That has to be it.
The summit ridge,
Straight on up to the top.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Plumes of snow,
Being blown
Over the top.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Everything,
Seems to be
Below.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Which one
Is the actual
Summit?

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

Pain,
Lungs burning, and cold feet.
Joy.

Step,
Rest,
And breathe.

No more up.
No time to rest.
Don’t waste your breath.

Just one more step.

The top.

Mountain

 

Mountain

Last light,
First light,
And the North Face
Begins to smile.

Magic moment,
Brilliantly bright,
Summit shines,
In all its might.

Suddenly, abruptly,
The crowning glory
Roars to life.

A twinkle of limelight
On the mountaintop.
Briefly highlighted
By the glowing sun.

In a fleeting instant,
The peak shows-off
Its entirety
In one broad stroke.

Ponderance erupts.

For a short time
Life is large, possible,
Loud, tough, and magnificent,
Because a chunk of dirt, rock, and snow,
Reminds you that it is.

Audio Version:

Aconcagua

Mountain Biking

Colorado Single Track

Rolling,
Flowing,
Spinning,
Floating.

Down,
Across,
Up,
Over.

Gripping,
Braking,
Screaming,
Breathing.

Squeeze,
Push,
Lean,
Feel.

Gasping,
Hacking,
Hurting,
Snorting.

Relax,
Look,
Focus,
Squeal.

Shifting,
Laughing,
Weaving,
Grinning.

Hot,
Cold,
Thirsty,
Hungry,

Guessing,
Feeling,
Hoping,
And always thinking.

Audio Version: 

 

Downhill

Alpine Summit Revisited

Summit of Huayna Potosi, Bolivia

Rocky, icy
Mountain summit,
Peaks above
The clouds.

Alpine world
Of wind and cold.
But also,
Warm and calm.

I go ascending,
Mostly upward.
Climbing, slogging
Pushing, moving.

Ice axe, rope teams,
Crampons, prusik.
Crevasses, glaciers,
Headwalls, ridges.

Glaring sun,
Burning lungs.
Frozen fingers,
And biting wind.

Pain gives way to persistence.
A deep breath of anticipation
Supercharges my lungs.

My focus sharpens.
No more blurry,
No more struggle,
No more doubt.

Within moments,
The horizon magically sinks,
As the mountaintop rises,
And welcomes me
Onto its crest.

I’ve won the battle of my efforts,
And the mountain the war for my soul.

Audio Version: 

On the Summit

Rain on My Tent

Anchoring the Tent

Raindrops pounding my tent,
They sound like thunderous applause,
Every time the wind gusts,
And throws them in bunches
Against the fly.

Lightning flashes remind me
Of other power surges.

Thin sheets of nylon
Are all that shield me
From the wet and chaos.

But all is well,
Because the dome protecting me
Is well anchored.
And I am warm and dry,
Zipped-up inside it.

I’m getting sleepy,
Even though it’s only 4:00 in the afternoon.

It’s good to be
Settled into my sleeping bag,
Just as the music begins.

I close my eyes and listen.
As the Rain Symphony gets underway.

I’m intent on absorbing its every nuance.
The subtle pauses, the crescendos,
The somber moments, the tempo changes.

Have I heard this one before, I wonder?
Some parts sound familiar.

But I know better.
Because every Rain Symphony is unique.
Each performance only happens once.
There will be other concerts
That are nearly,
But not quite,
The same.

Each is composed of
Familiar and comfortable sounds,
Blended with surprise.

Like always, the music is spectacular.
Contentedly,
I let my mind wander,
And begin to dream.

Audio Version:

Camp at the end of a bushwhack
A Mountain Campsite